Justin Trudeau's feminine mystique - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau’s feminine mystique

The new Liberal leader is being portrayed as not manly enough–which won’t hurt his polling numbers at all


Mike Choi; Chris Young/CP; John Kenney/Montreal Gazette/CP

Those early Conservative attack ads against Justin Trudeau are being widely interpreted as not-so-subtly casting doubt on the new Liberal leader’s manliness. Among other telltale elements, they end with Trudeau’s name unscrolling across TV screens—with a fairy-tale spray of animated sparkles—in a rather feminine, cursive script. As well, the ads were aired heavily during sports shows, suggesting the target viewer was the hockey-loving male.

But how susceptible is he to being portrayed as not man enough? To make that case, Conservative strategists must overcome the image of Trudeau pummelling then-Tory Sen. Patrick Brazeau (since kicked out of the party’s caucus after being charged with assault and sexual assault) in a charity boxing brawl last year. And then there’s the factor documented by the photos here. The throngs of women Trudeau often attracts, despite his being a married man with two young children, do not appear to be pressing close to him in order to demand that he flesh out his economic policy.

Might male voters be impressed, or will they resent his effect on their wives and girlfriends? The sexes do seem to perceive him differently. An EKOS poll found that 20 per cent of men who’d seen one of the Tory attack ads found it fair, compared to just 10 per cent of women. (Most of both sexes, however, about 70 per cent, thought the ad was unfair, with the rest not sure.)

It’s possible the ads, particularly in light of their tactical placement in sports programs, represent a bid to counter a threat Trudeau already poses to the Conservative edge among male voters in recent elections. A Harris/Decima poll, conducted April 18-21, found that Stephen Harper was seen favourably by 44 per cent of men and 37 per cent of women. Trudeau beat him among women, perhaps unsurprisingly, with a 61 per cent favourable score—but was also rated favourably by 53 per cent of men.


Justin Trudeau’s feminine mystique

  1. It is strange that the CPC would raise masculinity as an issue. Mulcair could probably bite the head off a nail, Trudeau is pretty but can take (and deliver) a punch, while Harper the alleged hockey fan cannot skate.

    • We all like to see ourselves in a flattering light. The Harper boys like to see themselves as going into the corner and coming out with the puck ; whereas the reality is many of them spend too much time going into the corner TH’s and coming out with the timbits instead. Probably doesn’t impress the ladies too much at all either i would think.

      • I spit take my water on this one. Remember: harper polls very low with women, especially those of us who are reasonably well-educated and work as professionals. And as for JT — anecdotal experience tells me that women of ALL ages are crazy about him. — and he has that ability to playfully flirt without it feeling scuzzy or threatening. I think that constant, unconscious comparison would bug harper. You are a guy, right? So what do you think of him (as in, do you find him likeable, charismatic, personable, intelligent, not asking if you find him attractive)? When I met him, I was struck with how genuinely friendly and warm he is, and how everyone in that room seemed kind of in awe of his persona. Michael Ignatieff was a nice fellow to speak to, but not warm like JT, and Stephane Dion is just the soul of graciousness, a very nice guy to meet.

        • How do i honestly see him? Well, i’m a a westerner in my mid 50s[ which means i got some redneck in me too] and i think you put your finger on it. Sometimes the the pretty boy thing gets to me. But as you say he seems genuinely approachable and likeable.[ certainly considering his celebrity status] So they sort equal out. I’d have to meet him to be sure.
          Wherry has a phrase i like[ is it original?] He has that humble brag…his dad had it too.. Seems to me to be quite a trick if you can pull it off, and yet be authentic and genuine. I had some doubts about his smarts, but i’m pretty sure now he has good political instincts of his own. He wont be his dad, but he has real potential to be something special.[ at least as far as politics goes in this country.]

          Hey i hear PP is bulking up on steroids and thinking of getting a charisma transplant so he can climb into the ring with JT. Problem is he seems to be allergic to anything but the ass*ole donor. Which he doesn’t need of course. And they wont let him in with a bodyguard…so, fights off.

  2. I think it’s the pretty boy thing. That’s what really drives them wild [ oddly many women seem to be far less bothered by the whole thing]

    It is odd. His dad had that rock star thing going with the ladies too; but no one would ever have dreamt of calling him pretty. It must really gore the tory oxe that JT thumped them in the ring too…smartest thing he’s done so far politically. It was ballsy. People wont forget that easily…certainly the tories wont, even if they’d like to..

    • It’s just personal magnetism; even Lyndon Johnson, homely as he was – had a lot more of it than Harper will ever have. It’s not dependent on looks, it’s an intelligence and sense of humour quality.

      • Yes, magnetism — it’s about how he makes people feel more than how they feel about his looks.

  3. Whether he is effeminate or masculine personified, the fact of the matter is that Justin Trudeau will make a darned fine Prime Minister. As for Stephen Harper, he is a lost cause for the next election and knows it—therefore all the false propoganda against the Liberals and Justin……

    • I think you’ve nailed it with that comment. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Your dreaming in technicolour; boy oh boy would I like to sell you a goldmine (sight unseen) in the Yukon.

  4. Perhaps the Conservatives (Conservative men especially) are jealous that Justin Trudeau is polling well with women. Justin has some of the same qualities that made Jack Layton popular with women voters. It’s not just that Justin is the best-looking leader right now (as Layton was at the time) but that he can connect with women voters in a less aggressive, less hostile and negative manner compared to Harper.

    • Ah Rebecca–that is just so very sweet!
      It really appeals to our collective feminine side.

  5. Having nice hair or being more/less masculine does not a Prime Minister make. It scares me to think that some people vote based on things like that. This is just a thought but perhaps people should be looking at their qualifications to lead the country and what they do/don’t support politically.

    • Sure, Hunter, but why does having nice hair mean you cannot be a great prime minister? And just who is focused on the hair anyway? I don’t think that the fact that women like Justin Trudeau means anything except that women like him. Give the guy a chance.

  6. Who is a great and caring male role model in Canada; Harper? Think again!

  7. Mulroney is right – you won’t have to misunderestimate him because he does have an English degree from McGill. Not only that, he seems to have twigged onto a mode or manner of dialogue that is known to be successful or optimal, as explained by James Grunig in his book: “Excellence in public relations and communication mangement.” That is, instead of preaching and giving orders he emphasizes listening and learning to reach accomodation – called two-way symmetrical communication, a more feminine style as opposed to one-way, dictatorial which is ultimately one-sided, deaf, unethical and tries to hide information from its publics. (Even men are acknowledged to exhibit that “feminine” style in communication).

    Two-way communication is often associated with win-win solutions between organizations and their publics. Unethical, damaging or false communication that leads to win-lose scenarios has no part in the two-way symmetric model and this might explain why Justin is not biting on the attack ads.

    The two-way model is often used by companies in trouble – in crisis mode. They make a public apology for whatever nasty thing their company has done then, if they’re smart, they become more contrite and open up communication between them (the organisation) and their public (customers) by listening closely and learning instead of dictating.

    Justin has also happened upon an important theme in most Western democracies – people feeling left out, abandoned, unable to participate in government. Who are these people? You have to first identify them, e.g. do they include Temporary Foreign Workers? Tourists to Canada? Women? Citizens of Canada? Who are the target audiences?

    He has identified a very important one so far: the middle class.

  8. Define Media cheerleading: macleans trying to take every negative and turn this into some ‘news’ flash that warrants national discussion in order to distract from the reality.

    Trudeau – is here because of his name, but maybe I shouldn’t criticise that as his mommy will complain in a different macleans cheerleading piece.

    So, who will you vote for – big bad scary harper or poor little trudeau who suffers from his mommy coming to his defense and has to live in the shadow of his father.

    • Trudeau, and thanks for asking!

      • It was a rhetorical question. Like there is any doubt what the typical reader here votes for.

        • Trudeau of course. I’ve just answered your rhetoricala question!…lol

          • answering a rhetorical question, yah – no wonder you’d vote for trudeau!

          • Frenchie, I see you on every topic thread that Macleans runs. I guess you too must be a “typical reader”. Probably a rather confused and conflicted one.

  9. Our country is not doing so well on the divide and conquer plan of our current government.
    Most reasonable people would like to see us work together to solve problems as opposed to telling people what is good for them.
    the oil sands is a great example of this. Most reasonable people would like some kind of solution that is not too harmful for the environment, supplies jobs and provides benefits for the whole country. Instead of working together to solve these problems, our current government is trying to ram these pipelines down our throats. If it takes omnibus bills, or grenwashing with misinformation or half truths, they will try anything to get what they want.
    It would be nice to bring some civilty back to politics. That is the hope that Trudeau brings to the table as opposed to either Harper or Mulcair. I hope he succeeds.

    • I think you nailed it Hoopsopinion. People are so extreme these days. Must be all the extreme reality tv shows creating influencing people’s propensity to find quick solutions.

  10. Justin would get that from Pierre Trudeau…..Natural Charm….1 have the same problem…
    80% of my friends are woman….Wife says that 1 come across as ‘being approachable,
    trustworthy, funny and honest’…..Stephen Harper does not come across the same way…
    Can not see him doing group photospreads…..Would not allow that type of event to be photographed…..This is way he does not attend the press gallery annual dinner…Part of his snobbish Etobicoke upbringing….Steve M

  11. they realize that Trudeau beat the living crap out of conservative Senator Bruzeau in a boxing match, right?

  12. I see “charismatic” as vague and negative, the kind of description that some people might use for film stars. Does this reflect the way large groups of Canadians view politicians? If so, shouldn’t we be educating future citizens to avoid voting with such an emotional bias?

  13. JT is certainly approachable compared to Harper, and really, the perfect prime minister does not exist. I think if he surrounds himself with competent ministers he’ll do just fine.

  14. Macleans Magazine is embarrassing in it’s ass kissing of Justin Trudeau. Why don’t you just change your name to “Justin Trudeau’s #1 Fan”? Honestly, the guy is a smarmy, second rate nobody. If you can’t be unbiased, get out of the publishing business.

  15. I was at the River Rock Casino in Richmond BC (nice place!) last year as they were airing a pay-per-view UFC match and the place was packed… with women. I’m not the biggest UFC fan myself, and had to avert my eyes from the screens because there was a man bleeding what looked like a gallon of blood from his face. As I looked around the room, I saw dozens of attractive women smiling from ear to ear with their eyes locked on the screen displaying this unimaginable violence.

    Maybe I’m a big wuss, but it seems these days women are lusty for blood. The Liberals should have the Trudeau Brazeau beating on repeat.

  16. Keeky Harper! He is no doubt jealous. Trudeau comes across as honest and comfortable in his skin! Harper should piss off and get a haircut. What an asshole!

  17. ok, …, we all know Adulf Harper is now one and done. Even the far right CON’s know their little dynasty is finally coming to a close, judging by the very few responses from them, these days, on Mcleans ?
    Anyway, why rub salt into their wounds, it’s not polite.

    Justin Trudeau is gonna be the next PM, and “Glass-jaw” Harper is out, simple as that.

    cya’ all next election.


  18. Hey; i’m not going to vote for Justin Trudeau for a ton of very good reasons but as an ex-golden gloves champ I give him full credit for the scrap he had with Senator Brazeau.
    He trained, he withstood the onslot and then he beat Brazeau to submission. Good job JT.

  19. Macleans is just another free liberal advertising machine… Congrats Justin, you’ve done sweet nothing and your already a hero. It would be a scary time if this clown ever gets elected.

  20. Hi me and my are lening about Justin and his life is there anything for me to now about his life.

    Get to me sone bye!!!!!!!!!